Have you ever dreamed of a way to knit that’s fast and has minimum hand movement? Enter Portuguese knitting!
Read on to learn about this style, what it is, and how to do it.
Have arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome?
Learning this new way of knitting might lessen the strain on your fingers and hands.
The best thing about this style is it requires minimal hand movement.
You only flick your thumb to wrap the working yarn around the needle.
The strangest thing about it is when you work garter stitch; you purl every row!
Working the purl stitch in this style is easier to do compared with the knit stitch.
I reviewed and updated this post on Aug 11, 2022.
Table Of Contents
What Is Portuguese Knitting?
Portuguese knitting is a style of knitting that didn’t originate in Portugal, despite being a popular knitting style there.
It’s one of the oldest styles of knitting, originating in the Middle East around 10 centuries ago!
Aka Incan knitting, this style is used a lot in South American countries too.
Want to discover something new? See my guide to arm knitting.
One way to spot a Portuguese knitter is to look for the neck wrap or shirt pin.
The knitter wraps the working yarn onto a pin attached to their shirt.
Alternatively, they may wrap the yarn around their neck.
What are the knitting pins for? They maintain tension.
Instead of holding the working yarn in one hand, you feed the thread around your neck or through the pin and down to your needle.
Here’s an excellent video on an Introduction to Portuguese Knitting Pins by Andrea Wong Knits on Youtube.
This handy technique makes it easy to work on the wrong side of your knitting.
It’s also great for purling on a flat fair isle pattern!
Other names for this unique type of knitting include Bosnian, Andean (what it is commonly known as in South America), Turkish & Peruvian knitting.
Also, around the neck knitting!
It is popular in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Latin American countries.
What yarn do you use for arm knitting? Wonder no more with my review.
How To Do Portuguese Knitting?
This knitting style is entirely different from the other techniques you may be used to.
The hand movements and tension are totally unlike English and continental knitting.
Before you dive in, make sure you have one knitting pin, a pair of knitting needles, and yarn.
Don’t have a knitting pin? You can use a safety pin or loop the yarn around the back of your neck.
An interesting difference in this method, has been used since ancient times.
This is a wonderful technique to add to your list of fun knitting skills.
How To Tension Yarn In Portuguese Knitting
- Pin a safety or knitting pin onto your shirt close to your left shoulder (the right shoulder if you’re left-handed).
- Wrap working yarn onto the pin, with the yarn ball on the opposite side to the pin. If you don’t have one of these, instead, you can place the yarn over your neck.
- Wrap the left piece of yarn around your right middle finger.
How To Hold Needles With Portuguese Style Knitting
In your left hand, hold your work. On the right, hold the empty needle. Now you are ready to work on your next row.
In your right hand, hold your work. In your left, hold the empty needle.
How To Cast On Portuguese Style
Watch Andrea Wong’s knitting videos for the cast on in Portuguese Knitting that starts at timestamp 2.09
This cast on method is very similar to the long tail cast on. This method creates a very sturdy and elastic cast on.
Have a long enough yarn tail to work with so you create the number of stitches you need to start your project.
Here is another style of Cast On Portuguese style that uses the cable cast on.
Want a great course to practice this technique? Try one by Andrea Wong Knits.
I found her friendly teaching style so helpful. Andrea learnt this style from her mother.
She also teaches in person classes at different events in the United States and Canada.
The Knit Stitch
Here you will see at timestamp 2.09 Andrea Wong demonstrating the knit stitch in Portuguese knitting.
- Set up to knit by tensioning the yarn. (See above for how to do this.)
- Hold your work in your left hand and an empty needle in your right.
- Poke the right needle under the working yarn so it is over the top of your right hand needle.
- Insert the right needle into the front of the first stitch on your left needle.
- With your left thumb, flick the working yarn over the right needle.
- Push the tip of the right needle through the loop on the left needle and pull the stitch off.
There is another way that Rosa Pomar does the knit stitch having the yarn held at the back.
The Purl Stitch
- Set up to purl by tensioning the yarn (see above for how to achieve good tension).
- Keeping the working yarn under the right needle, insert the right needle into the first stitch on your left needle.
- Flick the working yarn over the right needle with your left thumb.
- Pull the stitch through by pulling the right needle through the loop on the left needle rightward.
- Take the stitch off the needle
The video by Ellen from Chilly Dog above demonstrates the purl stitch. It starts at .27 secs into her short tutorial.
Keep your yarn stash tidy with a knitting yarn winder.
How Do You Do Portuguese Knitting In The Round?
- Cast on the desired amount of stitches onto circular needles.
- Ensure the first stitch you cast on is on the left, and the last stitch you cast on (the stitch with the tail on it) is on the right. Also, check that all the stitches aren’t twisted.
- Tension the yarn. (see above)
Joining In The Round Method No. 1
- Cast on the desired amount of stitches, plus an extra stitch.
- Slip the extra stitch from your right needle to your left needle.
- Knit two stitches together.
Joining In The Round Method No. 2
- Cast on the desired number of stitches.
- Slip a stitch from the right needle to the left.
- Pass the second stitch over the first on the left-hand needle.
Now that you’ve joined in the round, you can continue knitting as your pattern or current project calls for.
Andrea Wong highly recommends working in the round on the wrong side of the work when using this method.
It is much easier to purl in the Portuguese style and with practice you will get faster and have even tension.
How To Yarn Over Portuguese Style Of Knitting
How to yarn over on the knit side:
- Flick the working yarn to the front (the usual position for the working yarn when knitting is in the back) of your knitting (the purl position).
- Knit a stitch.
How to yarn over on the purl side:
- Flick the working yarn from the purl position over to the back of the right needle. (The original purl position is where the working yarn comes from the front of the work.)
- Purl a stitch.
Here is a video tutorial on increasing with this knitting style using an common increase stitch – yarn over.
Increases and decreases are simple to do with practice.
If you are a member of Craftsy, be sure to search for Knit Faster with Portuguese Knitting with Andrea Wong.
Some more advanced techniques such as colorwork is included. Any lesson is well worth your time.
If you’d prefer excellent books on this style of knitting take a look at my recommendations here.
These books cover the basics and then move on to other stitches such as lace, cables, double knitting and two color knitting.
What Is A Portuguese Knitting Pin?
Portuguese knitting pins are for tensioning yarn and creating even stitches.
First, you fasten the pin onto your shirt.
Then you wrap the working yarn from the ball, around the pin, to the needle. All tensioned and ready for knitting in the Portuguese style.
The pins include regular pins, magnetic Portuguese knitting pins, and fancy ones with patterns. Here’s my recommendation.
How Do You Use A Portuguese Knitting Necklace?
To use a Portuguese Knitting Necklace, just put on the necklace, and loop the yarn over the hook, just like you would do with a regular pin.
These necklaces take regular knitting to fancy knitting.
They come in different shapes and have one or more hooks for the yarn. You can use it as a beautiful alternative to your neck or pin. Take a look at my suggestion here.
How To Make A Portuguese Knitting Pin?
To make a Portuguese knitting pin, use a safety pin/paper clip. Or tension by looping the working yarn over your neck.
Now you’ve learned about Portuguese knitting, try it!
It might make knitting easier, or just something new to experiment with. Try dolls or an article of clothing like a hat.
So many patterns out there to try out in this new style. Happy Portuguese knitting!
Tried it? Tell me in the comment section. Or get in touch with me here, I don’t publish your email address.